Sunday, 9 May 2021

Love is not violence.

Yes, love is not violent. Rachel Lim, 29, says it well. She has recovered well too. She said that love and violence cannot co-exist. Actually, love ought to overcome violence because where there is love, there is no hate.

When Rachel met Clarence Teo Shun Jie in 2017, it was love at first sight. In an interview with Wong Kim Hoh, she said it was instant attraction. “I’ve never felt such an electrifying connection with anyone. Things went well for a while.” 

However, it took just one month into the relationship before Clarence, then a doctor, “punched her face...after suddenly grilling her about her past relationships.” It was a serious assault that caused her to bleed all over his bed sheets.

Rachel said: “I was shocked beyond words. I thought maybe he had mental health issues and that he didn’t know what he was doing. I thought if he were willing to go into therapy, there could be a chance for us.”

Here’s some context...

This is not the first time Rachel was exposed to violence. She was in fact born into a family where violence was common. She said this about her middle-class parents and elder brother. “I’m estranged from my family. They were emotionally, psychologically and physically abusive as well.”

She had lodged police reports against her father and her brother, for acts of violence. It was so bad that she couldn’t focus on her studies and thought of ending her life. She told Wong that she cut her arms when she was in her teens. Neighbours could even hear her screams. 

At 22, she packed up and left her family after a fight with her father. Rachel then rented “a small room in Ang Mo Kio and for a couple of years made a living as a journalist, writing for titles such as Wine & Dine; the Asian edition of BBC GoodFood; and Food & Travel.” 

Clarence was not her first boyfriend. Before him was another but it did not last. When “stress and accumulated angst conspired to push her into depression,” she attempted suicide. This time she cut her thigh. Her then boyfriend hurried her to the hospital for immediate treatment. He also broke off the relationship there and then. 

After that, she met Clarence. That instant attraction led to the second occasion of violence when Clarence “waylaid her when she was on her way to work, pushed her into his car, took her home and abused her for more than 10 hours.”

Rachel again tried to her to take her life after Clarence’s second assault. Rachel checked into a hotel and ingested dozens of pills. Fortunately for her, her Godma looked for her and found her in the hotel. They broke the door down and rushed her for treatment. 

The third and final beating was the worst. It happened in August 2017. When Rachel refused Clarence’s demands for sex, he was so enraged that “he smashed her face with his fists, breaking her nose, leaving multiple fractures and causing her brain to bleed.” 

Mind you, the beating did not end until Clarence’s father called the police and have his own son arrested. 

Rachel recalled that “doctors had to fix, among other things, her nose, her eye sockets m and her little finger which broke while fending off his blows.” She said, “I had brain haemorrhage and if it didn’t go away, I could have died.”

“Last year, (Clarence) was sentenced to three years, six months and two weeks’ jail with four strokes of the cane. He was also fined $4,000. Two months ago, he was struck off the Register of medical practitioners.”

Lesson? I have one. 

I fleshed out Rachel’s story because it has a happy ending, well, at least at this point of her life. She truly deserves it anyway. Wong wrote that she is now in a loving and respectful relationship with a design engineer, who’s also a musician. They have been dating for the last two years. 

I wish them well, and hope that their love this time will be strong and the commitment to make it work even stronger. 

The last two violent relationships she was in was of different durations (so to speak). One for decades (she left her family at 22) and the other for six months (that’s how long her relationship with Clarence was). I caveat that they are different of course, one is with family (whose bond is not irredeemable) and the other I consider a date (which ought to be severed for good). 

Her advice in the article was this: “Get out. Love and violence cannot co-exist.”

I agree with that. Love and violence cannot co-exist. Love and betrayal cannot co-exist too. And love and apathy, well, one day, the bough will break. But human love is not pure, especially the untested ones. 

One columnist Tim Park wrily describes modern marriages as such: -

“In this finely managed, career structured world we’ve worked so hard to build, with its automatic gates and hissing lawns, its comprehensive insurance policies, divorce remains one of the few catastrophes we can reasonably expect to provoke, offering a truly spectacular shipwreck. Oh to do some serious damage at last!”

There is no “comprehensive insurance coverage” for a union of two broken human beings. Time will test their devotion and commitment. No doubt Christians often view marriages as an act of God (refer to Genesis and the Garden of Eden) but a spouse who turns into someone you can no longer recognise is no less an “act of god”, that is, in insurance lingo, it becomes circumstances beyond your control. 

Recently, I received a caller who told me that for many years she and her husband were estranged. They were emotionally separated, but physically together. Yet, his behaviour became worse. He drinks. He gets violent. He hit her. He even hit his adult daughter. 

With a tinge of desperation in her voice, she said he has changed so much that she wonders whether he is still the same person who walked down the aisle just to say “I do” to her. But then, she paused for a while, and told me this, as a Christian, God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16).

Well, I was wondering, who goes into marriage thinking about divorce along the way? It is like saying “I do” and then whispering “I don’t think so”. 

You can’t get more certain at the celebrating altar before a crowd of well-wishers. The circumstances demand your certainty. It is externally compelled (so to speak). 

But certainty is a nurturing response, and love in overcoming together strengthens that certainty through the forging of two hearts into one. Over the years, that certainty is earned and it becomes an intrinsic commitment that lasts a lifetime. That is no doubt an ideal, but it is also the oxygen that love seeks to thrive in. 

So, not only God, but everyone at the wedding feast hates divorce. More so, during the honeymoon, or at the nursery, when you first hold your new born in your arms. Marriage is about the birth of a new life, and you have to brace yourselves for the challenges ahead as the two of you journey together in this new life. 

We tend to forget that yes, God hates divorce, but God also sent his son. On the one hand is the perfect and on the other, Calvary. Between that, it is where all human relationships strive to find their way, either towards Calvary or away from it. 

But divorces do not mean that he/she steps away from Calvary. It may very well be part of the journey he/she takes to find the one who is willing to join a heart broken with another who is equally broken, if not more so. 

That is why I wish Rachel the best of love, of overcoming, of growth and of nurtured certainty. A soul who never gives up looking for love, not necessarily marital in nature, will find it in a community that is also seeking the same thing.


Kintsugi of life.

I have always been fascinated by the Japanese art of restoring brokenness. It is called Kintsugi. 

The metaphor it carries (for life) is deep and rich, also reassuring. It concerns a vase, an antique or a vessel not being discarded for being broken, but restored. Not being condemned, but rehabilitated. This bodes well for a life, one as broken as yours and mine. 

Kintsugi is also about the golden joinery where cracks are joined together by lacquer mixed with gold or silver. The end product is a broken vase made whole again with its brokenness revealed, not hidden or covered. 

That's about sums up a life in this hardscrabble path of pain, sorrow, and disappointment, where triumphs and hopes are found both in the valleys and the mountaintops. 

Years ago, I read an article by author and philosopher Gary Hayden who wrote about Kintsugi. He quoted Ernest Hemingway who said "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken pieces."


Life indeed challenges us all. Even the rich and powerful confront life on equal footing. Their wealth and power form shadows that haunt them at night. No one born to this groaning earth lives in a bubbled world, because the heart is rebellious and faces the prospect of brokenness. 

I recall a preacher once put a question to a class of children: ”If all the good people in the world were red and all the bad people were green, what color would you be?” One little girl thought about it and her innocent face glowed. She replied: “Reverend, I’d be streaky.” 

Mm...come to think about it, Kintsugi is about that kind of streaky. Those strips of colours covering the cracks have no particular order or pattern. It is not preset. None of our streakiness is the same. The pattern is unique to each person. Our brokenness may originate from the same source, that is, our journey in life, but it breaks us at different times and places, different seasons and spaces. 

One theologian puts it aptly: “Somewhere in each of us we’re mixture of light and darkness, of love and of hate, of trust and of fear.” 

Indeed, life makes victims of us all. Even for the rich and powerful, death, sicknesses and pain do not pass them by. 

The birth of a life is the start of this peculiar agony. We dive into living in our youth - careless and free. We dream big and hold on to the constellation of hope. We trust easily and give wholeheartedly. We suspect little and let go without doubts. 

As we grow older, with marriage and kids, with increasing responsibility on our overburdened shoulders, we start to crack at the seams. Our soul becomes weary by the heights that pride brings us with the painful plunge that awaits. Sorrow and disappointments come by like our next door neighbors and betrayal of the heart strikes like predictable storms. 

No one escapes a broken heart. Sooner or later, the delirium of youth gives way to the disillusionment of age. Epictetus once wrote: "Don't demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them to. Accept events as they actually happened. That way, peace is possible."

That's the illusion of control. It is the antithesis of contentment and peace. 

Life will not bend to our rules. We can strive for financial security but not necessarily emotional satisfaction. We can work up a healthy diet and exercise regime but are unable to stop the fatal mutation of a cell. And we can achieve academic titles but not character growth and maturity. A classroom does not prepare us for a world that stokes our innermost appetites and set fire to our hidden lusts. 

Life plays no favourites too. Even at times, what you sow is not what you wish you reap. This is another control fallacy - to think you can micromanage choices so that the consequences are ringfenced and well tamed.

Well, reality check, life is not a well-managed zoo where our animalistic emotions are neatly caged for merely display purposes. They break out sometimes and run wild when circumstances (as we age) grow beyond our expectation and control. The fear of death makes anxious freaks out of all of us. 

And at some point, faith will test you. Hope will leave you. And love, especially love, will break you. They will conspire to stretch you to breaking point. Like a vase or a vessel, you will crack; some pieces will fall off. 

Alas, I return to kintsugi - the Japanese art of restoring broken antiques. The point of Kintsugi for me is that life is not one red-carpeted glam walk from start to end. Not even close. For we can very well determine the color of our sail, but never the tides, winds and waves while at sea.

Here, I recall this, blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in light. Indeed, an insulated life is an alienated life that never grows because it is never tested. It takes comfort in the dimness of its own limited experiences, or worse, deluded expectations. 

And if experiencing and embracing love is the summation of a good life, then love will not leave us the way we are, that is, dependent and deluded, immature and empty. 

Love will test and break us. Love will leave us open and vulnerable. Love takes us out of our comfort self to share and sacrifice with others. Love joins our heart with another and doubles the exposure. It also doubles the overcoming. 

Yet, the cracks grow us. Brokenness steels us. And the wounds empower us. Like the lacquer-streak of gold or silver in kintsugi, it reminds us how far we have come and how much we have grown. For we may come out streaky, but that is the messy colours of resilience. 

Mind you, resilience does not come from unbrokenness. It comes with each piece restored to become one whole. Brokenness as a community thus holds us together better than the arrogance of invulnerability, where we are set apart from the community. 

For that's the kintsugi of life, and the goal of living and overcoming, not with a heart unbroken, but one made whole, made stronger and made with depth of compassion, by brokenness.


Tan Siew Ling - An Extraordinary Spirit

Do we see the universe as being kind to us? Well, 33-year-old Tan Siew Ling did, and she’s blind. 

In an interview with Deputy Life Editor Wong Kim Hoh, she said: “the universe has been kind to me.” She added that “she has been blessed with good friends as well as supportive bosses and colleagues who help her face the challenges life has thrown at her.”

Now, what has life thrown at her? Let me list them down for you.

First, her sight. 

She lost it at a very young age. The world became completely dark when she was only 11. Wong wrote: “Trips to the optician couldn’t fix the problem, so she was referred to specialists who said her failing vision was a result of optic atrophy. It was not until much later, in 2017, when doctors discovered four tumours growing in her brain that she was diagnosed with Nerofibromatosis Type 2.”

Second, her father died two years later, when she was only 13. 

She said: “He had medical issues although I don’t know what happened to him. In the last few months before he died, he was in a feeding tube.” At that time, Siew Ling has an older brother, and he was doing his O levels that year.

Third, her mother had renal failure in 2007. 

She said: “My mother’s health suffered. We didn’t have the finances to get that fixed so her diabete and hypertension caused her to have renal failure when I was 19. She needed dialysis.” 

Fourth, her mother’s passing. 

That was a deep blow to Siew Ling. She loved her very much. It happened in 2015. ““When my mum was around, my world revolves around her. When she passed away, I had to reintegrate into society. Learning to ask for help, learning to tell people that I needed help, like “Can you accompany me for dinner?” It wasn’t easy.””

“My mum is gone, what I need to do is live.”

Well, recall that this is one tough soul who said that the universe has been kind to her. And it was kind because she has an understanding boss. Ms Ku Geok Boon, chief executive of SG Enable. 

Ku offered her a job as executive assistant. She was grateful and said: “SG Enable really walks the talk. My bosses and co-workers were willing to redesign jobs and accommodate my needs.” 

Her brother, Yan Cai, was also a pillar of support for her. He is her closest kin after her parents passed away. She said: “He spoils me rotten, accompanies me to all my medical appointments, talks to me and has never once complained. He and his wife always drop in on me.”

She also met and drew strength and hope from a blind research scientist Yeo Sze Ling. “Dr Yeo started losing her sight at four but went on to earn three degrees, including a PhD in mathematics...Her World Magazine named her its Young Woman Achiever.”

Under Dr Yeo’s encouragement, Siew Ling “became the first blind person in Singapore to pass Chinese O and AO-level exams in 2003 and 2005 respectively.”

Siew Ling also went further to complete her A levels at Tampines Junior College and graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in economics and finance jointly offered by SIM and the UOL. What an indefatigable spirit!

And while we are still at the challenges life throws at her, the fifth one is truly devastating. Not long after her mother passed on (in 2015), she discovered that something was wrong with her. 

She said: “There were a lot of sounds emitting from my brain: whining, buzzing, chanting, a lot of white noise as though a radio was on 24/7.”

“The doctors didn’t know how and if things would change in five years. It turned out that they didn’t need to look beyond five years. A few months later, I couldn’t hear already,” Siew Ling recounted. 

So, I return to how kind the universe has been to Siew Ling. Here’s a recap. 

At 11, she could not see. At 13, her father passed away. At 19, her mother had renal failure. Her family struggled with finances, depending on scholarships and bursaries to pay for her education. At 27, her mother, whom she loved dearly, passed away. And at 35, the world was silent, not a sound was heard. It was like the world she had known at 11 withdrew from her gradually and completely, first her sight, and later her hearing. 

However, after going through all that, this is how Siew Ling saw life - it’s still good. She has friends, mentor, employers and the love of her brother and his wife. She is grateful. She is contented. 

Oh, did I also mention that all this while, Siew Ling has four tumors growing in her brain? Recall her medical condition Neurofibromatosis Type 2? Alas, whatever type it is, Siew Ling is the type that never gives up.

This morning, if you are struggling with something, whether in school, at home, in your marriage or at your workplace, spare a thought about how the kind universe has treated Siew Ling. And yes, she did say this - “after my mum is gone, what I need to do is live.” 

This is the universe that Siew Ling was born into, yet it is still a universe of hope, love and dreams fulfilled for her. Life may have dealt her one devastating blow after another, but she only wants to live, and go on living. She chooses to see enduring kindness in an otherwise blind and soundless world. 

Personally, I thank Wong Kim Hoh for faithfully bringing this piece of heaven in a world many would have called it, well, hell. 

If anyone of us hates Monday, or for that matter, is frustrated with life for not going your way, I believe Siew Ling knows just how you feel. She not only lived it out, one furnace fire at a time, she also wants to live it well. She’s not giving up, and she even took up running in 2013. However, she stopped when her mother passed away in 2015. 

But last year, when the pandemic struck, Siew Ling received a call from Mr John See Toh, 61. He is the founder of Runninghour, “a running club that helps people with disabilities participate in sports and integrate with mainstream society.” John encouraged her to run again, and she took her first step in this marathon of life. Mind you, by then, she has also lost her hearing. 

John said: “We worked out a touch system of communication with her - turn right, turn left, slope ahead. Despite that, she had a fall in the first month and suffered a sprained ankle which put her out of action for two weeks. But she’s very driven and resilient.” Indeed she is. She’s not just a runner, she’s a fighter too. 

John said: “She is quite something. The word defeat does not exist in her vocabulary. She’s gone through one thing after another but she always picks herself up.”

Well, I can’t imagine the resolve in her to run in a world that she can no longer see and hear. I can only imagine that there is another world within her that is determined to make every step counts, and to finish every race life throws at her. 

We are always encouraged to see the world in a new light, and to listen to the beauty it has to offer. But for Siew Ling, it is a world without light and sound. Yet, she still saw beauty in it. She still hears the sound of an encouragement, the voice of a human touch, and the whisper of hope undimmed. 

They are all beyond our five senses, and they are the things that make up our inner world. They are the building blocks of our faith, building us up to face the world outside of us. For if we strive to still the storm within, we can face any storm without. 

So, kudos to you Siew Ling, for bringing new light and sound into a world we often take for granted. A world whose riches, joy and gains are beyond what the world of sight and sound can ever hope to offer.


Love at millennial's crossroad.


They dated for 10 years mostly on a long distance relationship. He’s Singaporean. She’s a Thai national. He’s 32. She’s 31. Her mother was a diplomat and his father a shipping manager. They tied the knot in 2019.


The husband, Jeremy Lim, said: “Marrying Parada was one of the best decisions in my life.” And theirs is not the usual walk down the aisle. 

They met “as high school students in an international school in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, but became a couple only after they graduated from the school and while living in different countries.” (reports Theresa Tan and Goh Yan Han). 

Parada Sritaragul is a high flyer, academic wise. She holds a masters in Communication Science from University of Vienna, Austria, and was also offered the chance to do a PhD at the University of Vienna. Jeremy has a degree from UniSIM.

But Jeremy told her that the PhD course would have taken about five years and he said: “I wouldn’t deny her all the things she wanted to do but I told her we are getting older.” 

Jeremy then threw in the love bait, so to speak. “I asked her if she would come to Singapore to live for one year.” She did, and one year later, they signed on the dotted marital line. 

Parada said: “We had been together for so long. And it’s really hard to find someone who understands me and who I can have a good conversation with. Jeremy really put in a lot of effort to keep our relationship alive.” 

Lesson? Well, I wish them well. I pray that their marriage will not be just about the honeymoon, but also about how they will come together even stronger and deeper in love when confronting the dark side of that so-called honeymoon. Because a lifetime union is not always a bed of roses. The thorns prick too, especially when you least expect it, for longer than you expect it. 

In their story of love, there is a part that caught my attention. “When people around Thai national Parada Sritaragul learnt that she was marrying a Singaporean church worker, they asked if she was bothered that he earned less than her.”

“They even told Ms account manager at a marketing communications agency in Singapore, that she could probably find a better match than her husband.”

This is what Parada said: “In Thai culture, the husband is supposed to earn more than the wife. And many Thais feel that when you marry a foreigner, he is really rich.”

“They always say I can do better than Jeremy. I say I can make my own living. I did not marry for money.”

I like the part when she said “I make my own living. I did not marry for money.” There is some truth there. Love bridges the gap right? 

At this juncture, I wonder, if I should pen a short letter about how I should advise young married couples on this journey to a union of one soul, body and mind, what would it be? 

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one word, reality. Here’s how I would scribe it. 

“Dear whoever’s reading this, Congrats, you guys made it! It is a day you have been waiting for, for the most part of your early developing years on earth at least. I can imagine my daughter (or son) walking down that same aisle and I too feel the joy in my heart, for them and for you. 

Marriage is indeed a milestone in a person’s life. It is one’s endearing idea of an ideal coming into reality. That wedding night is where that ideal fully blooms. It is meant to be unforgettable. It was designed that way.

Yet, in a society with one of the highest costs of living and one that is highly competitive, marriage has to face facts too. Unless you have regular stable support from your parents, you guys have to stand on your own two feet. 

And when the kids come, you have to anchor that footing to weather the perfect storm of parenthood, career and finances. That’s the dark side of the moon for you. 

Love often comes in here. It is a bond with a history and a future, depending on how realistic you guys are. Pls note that idealism without reality is flighty, and reality without idealism is weighty. You want the best and balance of both to make it through the marital rain. 

And the meteorological reading in this uncharted landscape is that it will come, and mind you, not always in the form of showers of blessings. So, brace yourself for some occasional heavy drenching. 

As I said before, love is the bridge. It ought to bridge the gap. It’s your first port of call. Nothing else can take her place. Not power, fame or money. For even if you marry into unimaginable wealth, a smooth union is no guarantee. Look at Prince Harry and Princess Markle, and I am sure you get the drift. 

Love is really what you make out of it. The light of love is that first promise to keep, and as long as you fight to keep that promise, and put it first at all times, you will find the path to walk together that will lead you to a lifetime of marital maturity and growth. 

Alas, that may sound idealistic, but trust me, keeping that first promise is going to test you to the core. It’s no academic test. It is the exam of a lifetime. That’s also where idealism rubber meets the reality road. 

So yes, reality is what’s needed to add salt to the years and light to the road. And at times, after some time, you will find yourself in a valley all alone, indulging in second and third thoughts. That’s only human, and marriage doesn’t make you less so. 

But pls don’t underestimate such valley moments, or misread them. They carry the message that love is demanding of you. She is asking you to shed the naivety, grow up and renew the commitment. If marriage has one definition, it would be to guard and protect that first promise against all temptations, distractions and disillusionment. Recall idealism without reality is flighty?

Ok, I will end here. In a short letter, I can’t cover everything. No matter how you read it, it is still words, in digital print. But the marriage vows are words too, confessed no less. Yet, I recall that in some beginning of time, a word became flesh and lived amongst us. I think that is where idealism comes alive, that is, when it is enfleshed and live the spirit of love out in full, over time, for all time.

I thus wish exactly that in your marital journey. A journey where love not only bridges the gap, shines the light, but also opens doors for resilience, reconciliation and renewal to bloom. 

Signed off,



The Extraordinary in the Ordinary.


We want our children to be extraordinary. We want them to stand out, to be outstanding. The script is to never be forgotten. Leave a mark that is forever. Be the legacy everyone will never forget.

In business, be the Schultz, Tatas or Bransons. In finances, be the Buffets and Soros. And in technology innovation, be the Gates, Zuckerbergs and Bezos. 

Our dreams for our children are boundless. We want them to excel in whatever they do, and never settle. Be at the top of their game, and always striving to be the best, the head of the line. 

But what is extraordinary then? What is the “extra” in that word? How about outstanding? How far “out” there do we expect our kids or ourselves to go? 

Everybody wants to be a billionaire. But how about the honest wage earner? Everybody wants to build empires. But how about the one who builds a home for the family? Or the one who lays a brick for the company? Or the one who live an honest life, caring and sharing regularly, even anonymously. 

And everybody wants to be famous. We all want many to know us. We covet the attention - the more the merrier. But how about a father whose kids offer the most heartfelt eulogy at his wake? He may not be well known by thousands, but to the handful his life has touched, he is well loved, never forgotten. 

The question is, what is this pursuit of the extraordinary when such pursuit often leaves us feeling that we have scrambled up a ladder that is leaning on the wrong side of the wall? In other words, a ladder leaning on a wall with just you at the top and no one else. 

This reminds me of a poem entitled “Make the ordinary come alive” that goes against the grain of all that. It keeps us marveling at an ordinary life, for the many extraordinary milesones in it. Some of you may be familiar with it. Here goes...

“Do not ask your children,

To strive for extraordinary life,

Such striving may seem admirable,

But it is a way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder,

And the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

I always thought that the “extra” in extraordinary has to be something more than just being ordinary. But I was wrong about it. My mistake was failing to distinguish the mediocrity and the extraordinary in the ordinary.


You can be mediocre in the ordinary or extraordinary in the ordinary. The reality that you are ordinary is not to be despised. What is to be despised is someone who despises an ordinary life, wishing to be somewhere else, hoping he is someone else, never having a mind that is contented and at peace with himself.

Such a man will never be extraordinary even if he becomes famous, rich and possesses everything he strives for. Because even in his glowing status, adored by thousands, he will not be contented. He will not be at peace. He will not settle. Even in his death bed, his fist is raised in the air. 

At this point, some may say that what I have written is nothing but a consolatory piece, that is, self soothing self. But on the contrary, I see it as a contentment piece, self overcoming self. For you can be rich or poor, and still struggle with life. Because deep inside, nothing is ever settled and right. In the end, it is about a perspective to see beyond what you have, and savour the growth in the nurturing relationships you never leave behind. 

Here are three encounters that I find most extraordinary. They are examples I can only wish for myself and my life. 

I attend church regularly and sometimes I sit in the kids’ section. Without fail, carrying their son into the room was a couple who have been attending church for decades. 

They would occupy the front row, and as the message was being preached over the big screen, the couple would take turns to play with their son. He is mentally challenged, and despite his cries and wailing, they never let up caring for him. That’s truly extraordinary for me. A lesson that is timeless about a love that is boundless. 

I have a friend whom I have known for more than 30 years, and for a period of 16 years, he had been taking care of his wife. She had been battling with lupus, and at the end stage of her life, her immune system turned around and attacked her own organs. 

He told me he had many sleepless nights and when I asked him what kept him going, he answered simply, “she’s my wife...I love her”. That can’t be anything but extraordinary. 

And finally, some years back, I brought my daughters to Tanah Merah Terminal to welcome my wife back from Batam. My youngest girl was very excited about her mom’s return. She said to me that she has been waiting for it since Friday when she left. When she saw her, she ran over and hugged her. 

The bond was deeply touching for me. It was in many ways extraordinary. It was a moment filled with the simple pleasures of life. A moment when in one’s passing matters more than anything in this world. 

They are all extraordinary in their own ways, and none of their extraordinary efforts in the most ordinariness of living can be considered as mediocre. 

One is about parental sacrifice, the other is about spousal devotion to the very end, and the other is about a mother’s love. 

And in the ordinary lives they live, what inspires me most is how extraordinary their love, faithfulness and hope for one another are. Nothing comes close. 

Let me end with what I wrote about a life of great impact. 

I dream of a life of great impact,

But what I got is my daughter's hug.

I dream of a legacy others will marvel at,

But what I have is my son's respect.

I dream of a world that will remember me,

But what I have is a night with my wife, truly free.

And I dream of fame and riches I can touch.

But I think you've guessed just as much.

For what I have is a walk with my daughter down the aisle.

My reality seems to have missed my dreams by a mile.

They are so different from the dreams I wanted so bad.

For they are the dreams that’ve kept me running mad. 

But I know now it's not my reality that has missed the mark.

It's my dreams that’ve always boxed me up. 

They have led me away from the things that matter.

And held me to a mirage wishing for something better.

In the end, I do not want to miss the forest for the trees.

I do not want to chase dreams that are just not for me. 

I will not trade my reality for a dream, chasing a myth. 

And in dreaming miss out a life waiting for me to fully live.